The fightback against fracking just kicked off in Greater Manchester

An anti-fracking protest
James Aitchison

A bold new move by Greater Manchester councils could force the government to reconsider its fracking plans. On 7 January, 10 councils that represent the region will announce plans to add a “presumption” against any planning requests for fracking. This would mean that any requests for permission to frack in the Greater Manchester area would be automatically rejected. The presumption will be part of the 2nd draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

A Radical Move

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham shared the plans on Twitter:

Burnham said that the move was “quite a radical policy” and called on people to “embrace a zero-carbon future & make GM the UK’s leading green city-region”.

The move was celebrated by Jeremy Corbyn:

The challenge comes as opposition to fracking is growing. The government gave permission for Cuadrilla to frack in Lancashire despite vehement objections from locals. Earthquakes and tremors were reported within days of Cuadrilla beginning its extracting. The well site has also been on the receiving end of numerous protests and demonstrations. Meanwhile, the government has been criticised by politicians on both sides of the aisle for allowing fracking to proceed.

Environmental activists have welcomed the move by Greater Manchester. A representative of the Campaign to Protect Rural England told the Guardian:

The decision is symbolic of the growing opposition to the government’s plans to fast-track fracking, which look to override local democracy by disregarding the wishes of local communities and deny those very people the opportunity to have their say on decisions that will ultimately affect them and the health of their countryside.

London joins the fray

There are similar moves in London to presumptively reject all fracking requests. Additionally, the Welsh and the Scottish governments have both blocked fracking since 2015.

There are also suspicions that Cuadrilla could cease to extract gas in Lancashire. It has been removing equipment from the site since 18 December. The firm has denied this, however, saying it is only moving equipment that “we don’t own and isn’t needed”.

Nonetheless, the resistance from regional governments, opposition from the public, and the fall in gas prices suggest a grim outlook for the fracking industry in the UK.

Feature image via Marianne Van Loo/Flickr

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